Fire safety for kids is an ongoing education issue at schools and in homes. The US Fire Administration estimates that 300 people are killed each year as the result of children playing with fire, and fires kill about 500 kids age 14 and younger every year. Many fires are avoidable, and for those that cannot be avoided, the 2 minutes following the start of a fire and the actions you and your family take can be life or death. What can you do as parents and caregivers to maximize the safety of children in your home? Education about prevention and evacuation protocols can be the home fire safety rules and the importance of fire safety rules for students.
Education: The Importance of Fire Safety Rules for Students and Home Fire Safety
How to Teach Fire Safety for Kids
Teach children in the way they learn best at the age they are. Take cues from their teachers and other caretakers and educators. Do they learn best from activities? Books? Art projects? Field trips? The #1 best way to teach a child is to first understand how they learn.
Utilize learning tools available to you from your child’s school and your neighborhood fire station. Normalize emergency responses by talking about emergencies and your family’s plan frequently. Practice your family’s household response to a fire emergency at least twice a year, and keep in mind to do so in daylight and nighttime. Update your family’s emergency response as children get older and as your household changes. Updating or remodeling? Update your emergency plan. Check out free fire safety resources online and with your local fire station.
There are many practical and interactive ways to learn about emergency safety with your children while learning how fast fire spreads in a house and adopting evacuation protocol for a fire alarm.
1) Game Play: The Blindfold Game
This is an excellent game for older children and one to do together as a family. To encourage fire safety for children while getting to know their bedroom or family room, use a blindfold and create a game, using “hot or cold” directions to help them along. The more your kids are used to the way their room feels, instead of looks, in an emergency, they will have the memory to help if their sight is impaired while learning about fire facts.
2) Field Trip: Arrange a field trip to your local fire station.
This will help your children become accustomed to what firefighters look like- to reduce the fear in a potential emergency. Fire safety for kids involves learning about free fire safety resources and letting the firefighters teach them what each part of the uniform does. Let them learn about the fire truck and the different sounds and tools used to help prevent fires and put them out. Firefighters can help enforce the importance of fire safety rules for students, home fire safety, and make evacuation protocol easier to understand because of their expertise.
3) Exit signs: I Spy and I Create
When out and about at the mall or at school, identify emergency exit signs. Make a game out of it- “I spy an Exit sign!” and make it a fun, normalized activity to do together. Extra credit: have an art hour where the kids decorate large exit signs to identify the exits in your home. This will help them connect during a home fire safety emergency, knowing where their pictures are and where they placed them.
4) The Bubble Game: Low and Go in Practice
While practicing “low and go” moves when reviewing fire safety for kids, take the lead to help your kids stay low and blow bubbles 2 feet or higher from the ground. The lower they go, the quicker they get out without busting a bubble, the more they win! Blow bubbles and as they arise, encourage your kiddos to go low and go! The faster they go without popping bubbles, the more treats they get at the end of the game.
5) Don’t Hide- Get Outside!
It’s our first instinct when something scary is happening to hide. Kids especially look to hide during these moments. Normalize conquering that hiding instinct, and use the phrase, “Don’t Hide- Get Outside!” to help your kids remember what to do in an emergency. Fire safety protocols all around both with fire safety USA and all over the world, encourage kids to learn how to listen to a fire alarm, remember fire facts, and follow evacuation protocol for fire safety for kids.
6) Stop, Drop, and Roll!
Ensure your kids are wearing pajamas- the manufacturing regulations behind kid’s jammies are stricter about fire safety than regular clothes. Don’t let them sleep in regular daytime clothes- only PJs.
Make sure they know what to do if they sense or see a flame on their clothes or body. Stop, drop, and roll is the best way to extinguish and protect.
STOP what you’re doing! Don’t run, don’t flail or runabout. DROP down to the ground. Get down quickly, and lay flat. ROLL and roll and roll. After you’ve dropped to the ground and you’ve flattened yourself, roll around the floor to extinguish any flames. There are many free fire safety resources available for you to help you teach your children about these fire facts.
7) Cool and Call!
Once you have completed Stop, Drop, and Roll! Make sure you “Cool and Call!” Cool = water. Call = 9-1-1 or yell for help. If you are in a place available for help- be sure to ask adults. If you are still in an emergency situation, follow the Get Out, Stay Out protocol.
8) Mark the Map!
Learning two exits out of every room is not only an important and imperative survival lesson but also can be an interactive family fire alarm experience. Draw out a basic map of your home, with levels and rooms, windows, and doors marked. Smilper, the better! Then, let your kids identify where the exits are. Better, but these maps on a whiteboard map and practice with markers where to go depending on where the fire is. There are many ways to learn escape routes, but the more familiar your family is with them, the quicker fire safety rules for kids will be followed if an emergency occurs.
Prevention: Fire Safety Tips for Kids
Fire safety for kids isn’t as simple as 1-2-3. Kids learn by example, imitation, and absorb actions, emotions, and more from the adults and older children around them. Teaching young children is of the utmost importance but also one of the most difficult to tackle.
Fireproofing and Evacuation for Kids
Follow home fire safety tips like monitoring smoke and fire alarms, electrical issues, and more.
Identify the risky areas, appliances, and goings-on within your home. Is your kitchen the area that houses the most electrical or fire risks? Or do you have an open flame fireplace on the first level of your home, with no preventative gates?
It is important to first build your home to allow for safe practices. This means opting for electric fireplaces or flameless candles. Do you have a child-resistant gate around your wood-burning fireplace? Are there hot pipes or easily accessible flammable objects within a small person reaching distance?
Planning: Adults and Older Children
Fire safety tips for children include older children and younger ones. Be sure to adjust your escape and emergency plans to reflect each child and update as they age. Evacuation protocol should also reflect which child is capable of what, and if there are older children in the home, which child is responsible for what along with the adults in the home.
Practicing: Everyone in the Home
It’s important to address your children’s curiosity around fire early on. Space heaters, stovetops, pipes, there are many things that can be hot around the home. Be sure to tuck away smoking materials and only use lighters with child-resistant features. Opt for flameless options for candles and fireplaces when possible.
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, as well as outside sleeping areas and inside each individual room. Check the batteries frequently, change them annually, and test them often with your family. Be sure your children know what the alarm sounds like so they know what to do when it goes off.
Practice your fire escape plan at least two times per year. It’s best to do this during daylight and also at night. Make sure everyone knows both exits out of each room and can exit within the two-minute time frame. Install quick-release access on all windows and doors, so children can easily work them. Make sure they practice how to open each window as you plan escape routes and practice.
Use your hands, not your eyes. Be sure to practice how to check doors, doorknobs, and other ways to check where the fire is. Have towels handy, and practice how to cover mouths and eyes. Learn how to check these hotspots and where to go if both exits are blocked. Firefighters are most likely to check next to beds, and nearest the floor is the safest.
“Don’t hide, go outside!” practice opening windows. Ensure you have quick-release features on all windows and doors. Consider emergency ladders and storing them next to windows on upper levels. If so, make sure you practice with the entire family how they are used, where they are stored, and know everyone feels comfortable using this method. One good design option is to have a bench with all emergency needs stored within a simple open and close top. Keep the ladder, towels, emergency first aid kits, and other items within this small bench. This way, it is useful in each upper bedroom while being a useful design item.